Educational Resources Available on History Museum’s Website

LOS ALTOS, CA (May 4, 2021) As part of the 3rd- and 4th-grade curriculum, every spring, local students in public, private and homeschools make field trips to Los Altos History Museum to experience California history. Due to COVID-19, last year the Museum was forced to halt in-person tours, and many classrooms missed this educational opportunity. To make the lessons available while tours remain on hold, the Museum’s Education Committee developed three online versions of some of the key info offered in person.

The Education Committee, chaired by Anne Roberts, is comprised of former teachers responsible for writing the content and leading the educational tours focused on local history for 3rd-graders in April, and on California history for 4th-graders in May. The committee also partners with the City of Los Altos Historical Commission to sponsor the Margaret Thompson Essay Contest , which has run for 38 years.

“The school tours have been held since before the current Museum opened, when it was still the History House,” said Roberts. “Since we were unable to meet in person the past two springs, we wanted to find a way to reach out to the students.”

VirutalEyes Media had recently produced a 3D tour of the historic J. Gilbert Smith House for the general public. The Committee approached them about creating one geared to 3rd- and 4th-graders. The virtual lesson includes interactive elements, like clicking on an apricot to ring the doorbell or trigger text boxes of information. Sharon Barkoff narrates the tour, progressing through the parlor, dining room, kitchen, pantry, laundry porch, and upstairs bedrooms, including the kids’ room.

In the “California Agriculture Lesson,” or “Cal Aggies” for short, docent Kaye Loughmiller teaches about the farming of apricots on a tour of the apricot cutting shed and sulphur drying shed, and Anne MacPherson gives an overview of the equipment used in local agriculture, including the walnut huller and tractor.

The downloadable PDF lesson titled “Stepping into The Wondrous World of Anna Knapp Fitz” provides an introduction to the paintings of the local artist and a view of Los Altos in the early days. The lesson includes questions for students to think about, and ends with suggested activities inspired by the painter.

“We hope students and their families will participate in these online lessons,” Roberts said. “They can be used by teachers in classrooms or by families at home, and are now available to students who don’t normally visit the Museum!”

To access the free educational resources, go to

Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the J. Gilbert Smith House historic farmhouse, built in 1905. In 2001, the Los Altos History Museum opened its modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collections, permanent and changing exhibits, store and administrative offices. The Museum and its grounds are available for rent during evenings and weekends. Its collections are owned by the City of Los Altos and are managed by an independent nonprofit organization, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for all programs and operations.

The Museum is open Friday through Sunday, from noon-4pm. Admission is free. The J. Gilbert Smith House remains temporarily closed. The gardens, outdoor agricultural exhibits and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, visit:, email, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.

Media Contact:

Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10,